Home - The Official Formula 1 Website Skip to content

Whitmarsh: McLaren must not obsess over reliability 11 Mar 2013

Jenson Button (GBR) McLaren MP4-28.
Formula One Testing, Day 2, Barcelona, Spain, Friday, 1 March 2013 Martin Whitmarsh (GBR) McLaren Chief Executive Officer.
Formula One Testing, Day 1, Jerez, Spain, Tuesday, 5 February 2013 Sergio Perez (MEX) McLaren MP4-28.
Formula One Testing, Day 1, Barcelona, Spain, Tuesday, 19 February 2013

On the eve of the new Formula One season, McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh has warned that his squad must not become “obsessed with the pursuit of reliability” at the expense of developing their new car, the MP4-28.

The car’s predecessor, the MP4-27, was competitive throughout 2012 but a lack of reliability caused the team’s championship challenge to fade towards the end of the season. However, despite bouncing back to win the final two races of the year, McLaren opted to overhaul their car for 2013; a decision Whitmarsh believes will pay dividends.

“Clearly we’ve taken some risks in changing the car from last year,” he said in a Vodafone McLaren Mercedes phone-in. “We finished the 2012 season with undoubtedly the quickest car and it would have been very easy to have continued to develop that car - we’d have made it quicker still for the start of this year.

“Yet we’ve made a lot of changes to the overall package and we’ve done so in the belief that you have to be competitive over 19 races, and you’ve got to be able to develop it. We’ve given ourselves a platform that is new to ensure we’ve got a development opportunity over the course of the season.”

Whitmarsh admitted that McLaren’s aggressive approach to car development would always carry certain risks, but that he’s prepared to accept them in the pursuit of the team’s first world title since 2008.

"You can never be as confident as you'd like to be with a new car," he said. "If it's stable and reliable, typically you want to push it further, make it quicker, lighter and more aerodynamic.

"We've been working hard with (engine supplier) Mercedes-Benz on some of the issues we saw last year, and we've been working internally as well.

"We are constantly vigilant but we must not become so obsessed by the pursuit of reliability that we don't change the car to improve it."

McLaren drivers Jenson Button and Sergio Perez showed impressive pace in pre-season testing, although Whitmarsh said that the cool conditions - and the subsequent increase in tyre degradation - made it very difficult to judge the team’s ultimate performance.

“On the last day Jenson did a very good long run, so you can start to convince yourself that you’re managing it (tyre degradation) better than others,” he said. “But the truth is that conditions during testing are very different.

“We believe that the new Pirelli tyres will be more challenging than those we’ve had recently in terms of their ability to grain and to wear. High degradation is inarguably good for the show, but is obviously a big headache for those of us who are trying to race and win. It’s an interesting challenge but it’s the same for everyone.”

For tickets and travel to 2013 FORMULA 1 races, click here.
For FORMULA 1 and F1 team merchandise, click here.